Pashinyan Calls for More Contacts Between Baku and Stepanakert

Pashinyan Calls for More Contacts Between Baku and Stepanakert

Nikol Pashinyan on Thursday called for more contacts between Azerbaijan and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) while accusing Baku of planning new attacks on the Armenian-populated region.

Pashinyan again described Sunday’s armed incident near Stepanakert, which left three Karabakh Armenian police officers and two Azerbaijani soldiers dead, as an Azerbaijani “terrorist act.” He said that that it was aimed at torpedoing dialogue between Azerbaijani and Karabakh officials and preparing the ground for a “new military provocation.”

Pashinyan stressed that despite the deadly violence Karabakh’s leadership issued on Wednesday an “extremely important” statement expressing readiness for further talks with Baku.

“I think it is necessary to create reliable international mechanisms for uninterrupted and institutional conversations between Baku and Stepanakert,” he added during a weekly session of his cabinet.

He did not elaborate on those mechanisms sought by Yerevan.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry likewise charged on Wednesday that Azerbaijan is gearing up for “new aggression” with false claims about shipments of Armenian military personnel and weapons to Karabakh.

Earlier this week, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry claimed that Russian peacekeepers escorted a convoy of Armenian and Karabakh military trucks along a dirt road running parallel to a section of the Lachin corridor blocked by Azerbaijani protesters since December. The Armenian side dismissed the claim as “disinformation.”

On Thursday, the Defense Ministry in Baku accused Armenian forces of firing overnight at Azerbaijani troops deployed along Azerbaijan’s border with Armenia and in Karabakh. Armenia’s Defense Ministry and the Karabakh Armenian army strongly denied violating the ceasefire.

A senior European Union diplomat said later in the day that he is “greatly concerned about the recent deadly clash and renewed reports of shootings.”

“No justification for violence; all issues need to be addressed through negotiations only,” tweeted Toivo Klaar, the EU’s special representative to the South Caucasus.

Klaar visited Yerevan and Baku late last month to discuss the possibility of another meeting between Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev which EU chief Charles Michel offered to host in Brussels.